Causes of Gambling Addiction


Gambling involves placing something of value on the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under the person’s control or influence. This includes games of chance like slots, roulette, and blackjack in brick-and-mortar or online casinos, as well as sports betting and lottery games. It also includes putting money on the outcome of an event such as a horse race or football game, with the hope of winning a prize ranging from a small amount to a life-changing jackpot.

There is widespread consensus that gambling involves impulsive behavior. Research has found that people who gamble are more likely to show evidence of behavioral disinhibition, which is a tendency to act without thinking about consequences. In addition, there is a strong relationship between gambling and sensation- and novelty-seeking. Zuckerman’s theory of sensation-seeking suggests that individuals may engage in risky behaviors such as gambling for the positive reinforcement of experiencing states of arousal and enjoyment of diverse sensations. Similarly, Cloninger’s theory of personality suggests that certain personalities are more inclined to be attracted to a variety of different sensational experiences and are likely to show more propensity toward gambling behaviors than others.

Although some people are able to stop gambling and do not experience negative effects, many cannot and end up with serious problems. These include financial, social, family, and occupational consequences. The extent of these effects depends on the level, frequency, and chronicity of problem gambling involvement. The degree of impairment may be exacerbated by co-occurrence with other disorders or by the presence of comorbid mental illness, such as depression or anxiety.

Some people are more susceptible to gambling addiction than others because of genetic factors or a personal history of traumatic events. Other people become addicted to gambling because of a chemical imbalance in their brain. It is also possible for a person to become dependent on gambling after consuming alcohol or drugs or when experiencing stress.

Understanding the causes of gambling addiction can help you help your loved one. There are four main reasons why people gamble: for coping reasons – to forget their worries, for fun, or because they feel more self-confident; for financial reasons – the desire to win a large sum of money, because they enjoy thinking about what they would do with it, or to change their lifestyle; and for entertainment purposes – because it makes them feel good.

Gambling can become problematic when you lose control of your spending and start to rely on chance to meet your financial goals. To reduce your risk of losing too much, set limits for yourself before you start gambling and stick to them. For example, only gamble with cash that you can afford to lose and don’t use your credit card to fund your gambling habits. Also, always tip your dealer and cocktail waitresses – they need it. It’s a small gesture, but it will go a long way to improving your casino experience.